My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year and a half and although we have really intimate talks, I feel like I don't know him. He's told me he loves me, confessed he's cheated on every girlfriend he's ever had, but says he feel differently about me. He's thoughtful, buys me gifts, and plans romantic weekends, but I often can't get a hold of him during the week. I’ll call and leave a message and then get a short text response an hour or two later. When we're together, I feel like everything is fine, but when we're apart, I'm not sure. I don't know how much of my suspicion that he may be seeing someone else is a projection and how much is common sense.
He Said: At the heart of most suspicions is the belief that the suspect is hiding something. And part what’s so deliciously compelling about suspicion is that it’s logically impossible for the suspect to ever prove that they are not hiding something. It is, as the saying goes, impossible to disprove a negative. This means that anything he does which resembles cheating can easily reinforce your fears. Fortunately for you, boyfriends are relatively simple creatures. Most of us guys aren't nearly as clever or calculating in our relations as you ladies give us credit for.
You might make a mental list of the things he does that you find suspicious and see if he has the same behavior with other people. For example, you say he doesn’t respond quickly or thoroughly when you try to contact him. Maybe he does this with other people. When you’re with him, is his phone stuck to the side of his head or in his pocket most of the time? Does he initiate a lot of calls and texts? Does he seem annoyed when he has to respond to someone over the phone? From what you’ve said about your boyfriend’s past relationships it’s natural for you to have doubts about his fidelity. But try to keep an open mind and heart and give him time to earn your trust. If he’s deceiving you with any regularity, it’s only a matter of time before it’s obvious.
She Said: It never ceases to amaze me the mental energy we women will expend on analyzing our relationships instead of simply opening our mouths and saying what we think and feel. (I know a lot of you are reading this and thinking, "What on earth do you mean? Women are always talking. They never shut up.") That can be true, but that kind of incessant foaming at the mouth is usually the result of a woman holding in her perceptions for days, weeks, or months before she attempts to communicate, and at that point, it's all backlogged and jumbled and makes little sense even to her.
Reality check: Assuming you live in the same town, it's strange that after a year and a half you are only seeing your boyfriend on weekends, but since I can't tell if this is a situation you've both agreed on—perhaps you're both super-busy—all I can say is if you want to see him more often, ask him to do something on a weekday (duh). But regardless of whether you two actually start seeing each other during the week, your assignment this weekend is to tell him in person that you've been dating quite a while, and you'd like him to be more in touch during the week. Specifically, you'd like him to call you back and actually talk instead of texting, or perhaps you'd like him to initiate a few calls to you just to say hi. Be concise, specific, and as authentically honest as you can. Pretend you are telling one of your girlfriends exactly what you'd like him to do, except use fewer words. This isn't as difficult as it sounds. Most of our desires are actually simple ones (I want you to call me back promptly, I want you to do your share of the chores, I want to eat out twice a week, I want more foreplay); it's just that we're afraid of asking for them, and so we dance around them, feel "confused," and add a lot of embellishments to our requests once we get the nerve to speak them.
Once you ask, watch and see how he responds. This is a very reasonable, everyday request. If he can't do it, something's amiss, at which point you'll have to decide whether you want to stick around. He Said is right; you can never find out for sure that he's not seeing someone—though if you wanted to get all stalker on his ass, you might be able to find out that he was in fact doing so. But I don't recommend that. And it may not come to that. Once he knows what you want, he may simply do it.
I can't tell you where this will end up, or whether he's seeing someone else, but I do know you've got to open your mouth, speak your feelings, and keep doing so until it resolves.
Confused? Heartbroken? Need advice? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org